Monthly Archives: June 2011
Download June 2011 Issue
Currently, if an unaware person enters the campus of IISc, he/she might begin wondering whether he/she missed news about an election phase to be held in Karnataka. Almost everywhere, lamp posts, notice boards and streets are plastered with hoardings trying to collect votes for the “clock”, “car” or “bicycle”. That the IISc is primarily a place of research and education and not a political stage does not count these days and the daily routine is disturbed by candidates and their followers barging into the offices and labs.
It is interesting to note, that if elections are going on for the Students’ Council, the prospective candidates are explicitly forbidden from putting up boards and posters or visiting the labs and offices during daytime (prior to 6PM).
Hangouts, if any, are only allowed at places of students’ interest such as the messes and hostels ONLY.
These imbalances of rights and duties among the Students’ Council and other institutions (such as the TMC) combined with an omnipresent lethargy of the students results in a loss of interest in the Students’ Council itself. Barely someone is standing for elections and many times candidates are elected unanimously. It seems that the Students’ Council is considered to be a disturbance within the IISc community and its power has been reduced to begging to the IISc authorities to, for e.g., get rid of the street dog menace, since almost daily people are bitten by dogs these days. Even after years, almost nothing happened and if anything has, it was never a permanent solution. But this is another topic…
Alexander Fell (SERC)
Should there be a decorum for the editorial of a campus newsletter? Isn’t it unworthy of the newsletter to have an uncivilised word like s*** in its title? It reminds me of an interesting debate in the British Parliament where a lady MP got away with the word as “it is appropriate to use that word as a noun, but not as an adjective”. Hence, I think I am perfectly justified when I use the s*** word to raise my grievances about the rivulets of sewage that are found flowing in the campus, especially near the eating places, making it the smell of IISc.
The man hole near the back gate of CPDM constantly overflows into Tea Board. The man hole close to the coffee counter in Prakruthi and the one opposite Nesara also overflow occasionally. The hygiene in C-Mess used to be worse until sometime back. Thankfully, the problem in the mess has been resolved. Some of the other troublesome places are the ones near Juice Centre and near N Block, on road to Gymkhana. The one next to Krithika, on way to Mrigashira, is so infamous that it now acts as a traffic island.
It is not that people are insensitive. Sometime back, it was interesting to observe some professors from MRDG once clear the overflowing man hole behind Bio-Chem and in front of MRDG.
Suggesting a solution to this menace is beyond the scope of this editorial. But Voices does hope that the administration takes note of the situation and comes up with a lasting solution.
Photo credits: Jim Reeves David (Mech Engg) and Rupesh Nasre (CSA)
I would like to bring your attention into a serious issue which is hindering the ambiance of our institute.
When students were nominated for SC elections, we were given a set of rules to be followed while campaigning (Scanned copy of the same attached).
No banners/posters were allowed.
We were asked not to litter the campus with pamphlets.
No canvassing was allowed during office hours and only 3 days were allotted for campaigning and so on….
We see that all these rules are not applicable to the contestants of TMC election. The staff strength is only 750 and they are disturbing the institute atmosphere. To reach to a floating population of more than 2500 students, we were not even allowed to paste an A4 size poster anywhere in the campus. This is injustice done to the student community. For SC and Gymkhana, we have constitution and set of rules. We are very happy to follow them to keep the campus environment friendly and to keep up the culture of an academic institution.
I wrote a request to the polling officer of TMC elections and came to know that TMC does not have any constitution and they are allowed to act according to their wish. Many of the staff are not available in their offices and today I have seen a group creating nuisance near SBI and lot of people smoking.
I request you to take this matter very seriously and kindly take appropriate actions to make these contestants remove all the banners and flex boards immediately.
In Institute Amenities committee and Health committee meetings, it was sad to see disrespect shown by some of the staff towards the Chair and Professors. In Prakruthi and Tea board, when faculties and students stand in queue, few staff are served tea/coffee on their tables. We are made to pay a service charge of 15%. We foresee a big threat to the academic environment of the institute if proper legal action is not taken immediately.
IISc Faculty Association hosted a lecture on April 13, 2011 by Dr. Arogyaswami Paulraj at the Faculty Hall.
Dr. Paulraj started by stating India’s economy is broad based and spread across variety of goods and services. He stated that most economic and demographic metrics favour sustained growth of the Indian economy for several more years and added that the current growth would not have been possible without the absorptive power within the country for capital input thanks to well-developed financial, telecom and transportation sectors.
He then enunciated the three characteristics of high technology industry. First, the need for highly skilled scientific and engineering manpower – both at entry and experienced levels. Second, high R&D intensity – roughly R&D investments as a fraction of sales. Third, need for large initial investments.
Such investments are possible only if the market is global and not surprisingly, the high technology industry is dominated by few companies which must fiercely protect their market position to survive. This makes successfully breaking into high technology industry very difficult without Government backing.
Examples of Government support to high technology industry in US and China were given and it was made clear that India also needs a high technology industry. Reasons include national security, economic growth and even political stability.
Examples of high technology industry in China like commercial jets (EDAS) and telecom (Huawei) were given. India’s poor record in high technology was stated by the fact that we have no EDAS for passenger jets, no Huawei for telecom, no Qualcomm for wireless and no TMSC for semiconductor fabrication. An example of two similar start ups was given. Huawei from China and Midas from India. Both countries enjoyed a huge internal market in telecom, Huawei could exploit it and Midas could not. In the late 80s when both the companies were started, India had significantly superior technical entrepreneurial and management skills. But China used its market power and a determined national policy to build a global telecom company.
Addressing the issue of what India should do, Dr. Paulraj stated that India can be successful in high technology too, at least in sectors like telecom. Our core engineering skills in areas like telecom design are very strong thanks to years of learning through off shoring and out sourcing to India. Our knowledge of English is a big advantage for operating globally. Our IITs and NITs graduate a sizable number of undergrads in science and engineering. So both human and organizational capital for a telecom industry is in place.
He made it clear that the right kind of investment capital – private capital is hard to attract given the high levels of investment and very high risk. He said attracting private capital will not be possible unless government provides policy and institutional support to attract private capital, but keep away from investing itself.
Given the current priorities and make up of our political system, it is unlikely that the source of national determination can unilaterally come from the political level, he stated. And that the direct stake holders in high technology – the industrial, scientific, defense and other communities will have to push for a policy framework. India should actively enlist the help of Indians abroad who are leaders in high technology and willing to devote substantial time for this effort. Their input is important because they can bring a realistic understanding of the challenges involved and help craft pathways to success.
Dr. Paulraj concluded by saying that India needs a high technology industrial capability to build a secure, vibrant and competitive economy. Building this is a huge task, but the good news is that we have most of the ingredients for success. All we need is imagination, will power and the effort of people like the audience to shape an effective policy framework to get us started on this journey.
IISc Centenary Cricket Cup 2011
IISc Cricket team won the First IISc Centenary Cricket Cup, the final of which was held on May 8, 2011. IISc pipped RNSIT by a slender three-run margin to lift the intercollegiate trophy. Arindam Ghosh (71 off 42 balls) helped IISc post a healthy 168/8 and was adjudged Man-of-the-match while IISc captain Ashith Shyam was named the Player-of-the-tournament. IISc took crucial wickets at regular intervals to keep RNSIT in check. With ten required of the last over, RNSIT could manage only six. For details, log on to the IISc Cricket Website: http://cricket-iisc.blogspot.com
K. Vijayanth Reddy (ECE/CeNSE)
Nature enthusiasts have always won my admiration; I mean, they love and even deify that last trace of beauty and serenity in the world and what is probably the only thing left on this planet that can be proffered as proof for the existence of the divine – so to speak. Everything about nature is peaceful, untainted. And anyone who can love and appreciate this sort of impeccable purity must inevitably share some of those desirable qualities. Or so I thought, while I matched pace with a guy I had had the opportunity of meeting near an ATM booth after we struck up an inadvertent conversation that started with the weather and then grazed past several topics and finally made a grinding halt at his most passionate subject – Nature. If it were a public vehicle we were on, I’d have got off right then. A single-ended conversation, on the other hand, didn’t afford me such a luxury. So, I listened, and surprisingly enough, somewhere down the line, I was hooked. I liked his enthusiasm and his extensive knowledge about nature-related topics. And now, on our second meeting, I couldn’t wait to listen to him, as he talked about the rain forests and wanted to show me excerpts from a bird-watching book he had jointly published. I also hoped to show off some of my hard-acquired pearls of knowledge – however scanty. “They should plant more indigenous species here,” he said as we walked along Badam Marg pointing at the information boards on the trees lining the road.” These foreign species are ruthless! They take away everything – sunshine, water, and space – completely displacing the original inhabitants.” “Invasive species, I know”.
Invasive species: ‘Any species that has been introduced to an environment where it is not native, and that has since become a nuisance through rapid spread and increase in numbers, often to the detriment of native species’
“Aha, Look! A spider!” He pointed at a tree branch a few feet up, exactly overhead. He expertly named the genus, species, scientific name, etc. of the black bristly thing, while I wondered how exactly it came to his attention in that dim light. A sudden pang of hunger didn’t let me complete that thought. But, I couldn’t call up the nerve to disturb my companion, who was absorbed in the careful examination of his discovery. Fortunately, I had help – from a very trustful friend who shared my hunger pains at the same hour. His howl terminated the contemplative trance my friend was in. He shook his head, annoyed.
“You hear that? Piercing, right? These stray dogs, they’re everywhere. I mean this campus is infested by them. They bite, you know that? Two cases, last week alone…”
“Yes, their numbers should be controlled…” I said, thoughtfully.
“Controlled! They should be mass killed. Sprayed and killed. Would be very easy and effective! No hassle. No hooks or nooses and no money wasted by way of huge commission for dog catchers. Would work 100%”
I was stunned. I couldn’t believe the words that came out of my nature-loving friend’s mouth. So, I said, “Wouldn’t it be more humane to sterilize them?”
“That would take a long time, lot of money. Extermination is the answer. And why should we be humane? Is biting a 10 year-old humane? And so does it deserve a humane reaction?”
“I guess not”. I didn’t have a better solution to offer, so I kept mum. I don’t know if it was his vicious red face or my increasingly irritated tummy, I decided to take matters into my own hands. “See, another exotic species!” He said enthusiastically. When it comes to the world on a larger scale, we all know who the intruders are. And I, bearing that bad name, would do better to show those displaced ones some kindness. My good friend loved and adored nature – in illustrated books and holiday cards. In his mind, it had been replaced by a collection of exotic information to be mastered by industrious learning. Nature, with its true vagaries and variety was non-existent to him. “I have to go;” I said, walking away. “Time for dinner!”
“Don’t you want to see my book?” He said, trying to open his back-pack.
“Another time” I said, looking back, “Possibly!”
Arun K. (EE)
Indian mathematician wins Knuth Prize
Indian mathematician and theoretical computer scientist Ravi Kannan has been awarded the 2011 Knuth Prize, a prestigious international recognition for research in computer science.
He is also the first adjunct faculty of the Computer Science and Automation department at the Indian Institute of Science.
It says, “One of his research papers, published in 1990, has been called one of the most remarkable algorithmic achievements ever. It addresses the issue of easy formulas for volumes of simple three-dimensional objects like spheres and cubes.”
IISc professor’s book on astrophysics makes waves in global academy
Physics Today, a publication of the American Institute of Physics, has in its January 2011 edition highly lauded Arnab Rai Choudhuri’s book, Astrophysics for Physicists.
Professor Choudhuri works in the department of Physics at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.
the book has also been listed as an “Outstanding Academic Title of 2010” in Choice, the magazine of American Library Association.
The book has also garnered good responses from scientists across the world. Academicians feel that with its lucid writings, the book has become the standard for advanced undergraduate courses.
IISc Chemists have spearheaded a worldwide effort through the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry to define hydrogen bonding
The world authority on chemical nomenclature is preparing to scrap the familiar hydrogen bond definition, in light of recent evidence about its true nature.
A 14 member group has been developing the latest classification since 2004. Prof. Elangannan Arunan from IPC, IISc, co-chairs the IUPAC group assigned to categorise hydrogen bonds and other intermolecular interactions.
After five years, it submitted a report to IUPAC which included the definition of hydrogen bond in early 2010. Following an extensive review process (25 reviews as opposed to typical 2 reviewers for a manuscript), the task group has recently submitted 1) A recommendation containing the definition of the hydrogen bond 2) A technical report that summarizes hydrogen bond research over a century and provides a rationale for the proposed definition